This event takes place each year at Saint Maurice in Switzerland on the Sunday after the Feast of the Uganda Martyrs. For its sixteenth gathering the Pilgrimage to the Saints of Africa gave a special place to the Coptic communities of Egypt.
Despite the wet weather on this Pentecost Day, the pilgrims brought themselves from across Switzerland to Saint Maurice in the Canton of Valais, and gathered at the church of Saint Sigismond.
The morning resounded to the rhythms of the singing pilgrims, who came from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Congo, Togo, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Cap Verde, all alongside the Egyptian Copts. The witness of Mgr Bishay, the Egyptian Bishop of Luxor, opened people’s hearts to the Spirit of God who is active to this day in the hearts of Egypt’s Christians.
Luxor in Upper Egypt is the home town of Sant Maurice and his Companions of the Theban Legion, martyred around the year 300 at Augane, the place know today as Saint Maurice in Valais.
Bishop Bishay testified that Christians in the Middle Eat are paying with their lives for the simple fact that they are Christians, falling victim to religious intolerance. He insisted forcefully that anyone who claims to kill in God’s name does not in fact know God.
The pilgrimage drew to a close at the basilica in a festive Eucharist, opening with the Litany of the Saints, including Antony the Great of Egypt and the Blessed Martyrs Maurice and his Companions. They live forever in Divine Light.
This pilgrimage gathers Africans from across Switzerland to celebrate according to their own culture and outlook. It also offers a window through which one can see the rich traditions of Africa.
Text and photos from The Missionaries of Africa in Switzerland.
Mgr Ayad Bishay, Bishop of Luxor in Upper Egypt. The Zurich African choir, at the parish church of Saint Sigismond. Mgr Bishay with pilgrims at the entrance to the basilica of St Maurice. gr Bishay with Abbot of St Maurice Jean Scarcella.
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